We live in a highly mobile society.
We’re always on the go and super busy—we certainly don’t let any grass grow beneath our feet, do we?
This applies to our language-learning methods, too.
If you don’t like lugging books around with you, there’s even better news for bibliophiles: You can access your books on the go as digital files.
Okay, maybe this isn’t news to you. But e-books are perfect mobile learning tools! You can access them anytime from anywhere. And there are so many to choose from!
Of course, the downside to this abundance means that not every e-book is worth your precious time.
If you’re already running at the speed of light, you probably don’t have time to research which Italian e-books are a must-add to your digital library and which are a hard pass.
Not to worry: We did the research for you!
We’ve rounded up 10 of the best Italian e-books for learning, from instructional manuals for beginners to Italian-language classics for more advanced students—and everything in between.
Download them today and read your way up the skill levels!
But first: Let’s learn how to harness the power of e-books.
How to Learn Italian with E-books
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you choose e-books as part of a language learning program.
- They should be level-appropriate. If you’re a beginner, choose books with basic vocabulary that’s familiar to you. Intermediate and advanced learners should seek out more complicated text.
- The writing should be challenging but not discouraging. If the book you choose is too difficult, you won’t want to read it. If it’s too easy, you won’t learn anything. So choose appropriately! And don’t forget to upgrade as your skills increase.
- Read actively, not passively. You might be tempted to read just for the fun of it, especially if it’s a great book. But remember that this is part of your learning process!
Reading Italian text provides you with many opportunities to see grammar rules and vocabulary used in context. Pay attention to unfamiliar phrases or any grammar points you might be wrestling with. Sometimes seeing these things in action clears up lingering questions.
- Enjoy! Italian e-books are a multi-purpose tool: they teach and entertain all at once. This is an opportunity to learn and have fun at the same time!
So what are we waiting for? Let’s get to the books!
Learn Italian with 10 E-books for All Levels
Remember how I mentioned that books should be level appropriate? To that end, this list is ordered from beginner to advanced.
Love the structure? Not sure what level you are? You’ll love FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons, as you can see here:
FluentU helps you get comfortable with everyday Italian by combining all the benefits of complete immersion and native-level conversations with interactive subtitles.
Tap on any word to instantly see an image, in-context definition, example sentences and other videos in which the word is used.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and review words and phrases with convenient audio clips under Vocab.
Once you’ve watched a video, you can use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in that video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
FluentU will even keep track of all the Italian words you’ve learned to recommend videos and ask you questions based on what you already know.
Plus, it’ll tell you exactly when it’s time for review. Now that’s a 100% personalized experience!
Use FluentU and these e-books together for an unbeatable Italian learning duo!
“Italian in a Week!” by Language Master
Get your first taste of Italian with this instructional e-book, which explains the basics of conversation, how to form sentences, key phrases for getting around in Italy and more.
It’s not meant to be a thorough guide, but rather to get you started: Use this book if you’re beginning completely from scratch and want a solid foundation to the language that you can build on with other resources.
“Italian for Beginners” by Bruno Thomas and Gianni Nucci
After a brief introduction to pronunciation, sentence structure and some key words and grammar rules, this books dives right into some really useful phrases and words grouped thematically.
You’ll learn how to order food in Italian, go shopping, ask for directions and even more specialized topics like informing others of your food allergies and making presentations in the workplace.
This is a must-read if you’d like to bulk up your knowledge of common words and phrases, especially if you plan on traveling to Italy.
Each word and phrase introduced is accompanied by its phonetic spelling, so it’s a small step from reading to speaking!
“Italian Short Stories for Beginners” by Olly Richards
The eight fast, fun stories in this book were written specifically for learners who are just starting out on their Italian journey. Each story is further broken down into chapters, making them even more manageable for readers to tackle on the go.
The stories are of varied genres, from science fiction to crime and thriller, which means you won’t get bored! Although there are no definitions within the text (to prevent readers from relying too heavily on them), each story contains bolded words that are defined at the end of the chapters.
Each chapter also has a plot summary and a few comprehension questions to make sure you really understood what you read.
The author, Olly Richards, speaks eight languages and keeps a blog about language learning. If you enjoy the book, check out his blog called “I Will Teach You a Language”!
“Italian Short Stories for Intermediate Learners” by Olly Richards
It’s set up in the same way as the beginner short story collection, but this time the language is a bit more advanced. The stories use varied tenses and complex grammatical structures that are meant to test and challenge readers at the intermediate level.
His books are not only entertaining resources, but they have fun covers, too!
“Italian Readers: Short Stories with Parallel Text” by Alex Kouzine
Parallel text language books great learning tools since there’s no need to keep a translation app or dictionary at hand. The text is given both in English and Italian, so if you’re stuck on a word or phrase, just read the corresponding English line.
Avoid the pitfall of relying on the translation, though! When you read these, try to understand the text on your own before you give in and check the meaning.
This reader offers elementary to intermediate stories. There are five mini-stories at the beginning, intended to prepare readers to tackle the actual stories.
The volume contains 16 stories by some renowned authors. Works from O Henry, W.S. Maugham and others are translated into Italian and presented side-by-side with the English version. Each English paragraph is followed up by the Italian version, meaning you can read some classic, well-loved stories in both languages.
Honestly, I’ve read this more than once—and loved it every time!
“Non puoi essere tu” (“You Cannot Be You”) by Sonia Ognibene
This modern mystery story is perfect for short, fast reading and has received excellent reviews.
The plot is intriguing: One evening, Frederica finds the face of her dead friend in some Facebook vacation photos. How could this be? Get pulled into the mystery and learn Italian at the same time!
This story is written for learning easy Italian and aimed at level A2-B1 learners (as explained in the Common European Framework for Reference of Languages).
“Learn Italian with Short Stories: Interlinear Italian to English” by Emilio de Marchi
Each sentence is translated word-for-word into English directly under the Italian, so you can enjoy the stories and learn at the same time.
Having translations at hand is a great benefit for beginners, but it’s also useful for advanced readers. I mean, we all need to look up a word’s meaning sometimes—even in our native languages!
Gripping stories written by an author of authentic classic Italian works is a super addition to any Italian reading program.
“Harry Potter e la pietra filosofale” (“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”) by J.K. Rowling, Translated by Marina Astrologo
The series was intended for younger readers, so the vocabulary is fairly basic, making this Italian version—like its English counterpart—perfect for both intermediate and advanced readers.
The story is familiar to many, which is a great help, too. Often, if a reader has an idea of what’s going on in the plot, figuring out a random unfamiliar word or phrase is simply a matter of deduction.
Just remember not to get confused by made-up in-universe words like “muggle” and “Quidditch”—words that you might find in a dictionary (because Harry Potter is that influential!) but probably don’t need to know on a day-to-day basis.
“L’amica geniale” (“My Brilliant Friend”) by Elena Ferrante
Elena Ferrante is an Italian novelist whose work includes four New York Times bestsellers. She’s highly regarded in the literary word and this four-volume series, The Neapolitan Novels, has gotten rave reviews and is even being adapted as an HBO series.
“L’amica geniale” is the first book in the series, so leave room on your device to download the others! (I read the first one and moved right on to the next!) It’s perfect for more advanced learners who want to try their hand on some authentic reading, written in Italian and meant for Italian readers.
Set in 1950s Naples, this is a story of frienship, family, love and an entire era. Besides learning Italian, this series also gives you a glimpse into life in Italy in the mid-1900s and brings the history and culture to life through its characters.
No one actually knows who “Elena Ferrante” is, as this is a pseudonym, and there’s been speculation about the author’s identity for years. Whoever this is, he or she is writing excellent fiction. It’s entertaining and perfect for leisurely language learning!
“Il nome della rosa” (“The Name of the Rose”) by Umberto Eco
A curious, Sherlock-Holmsian monk is called upon to investigate suspected heresy in an abbey in 1327. The story that unfolds is gripping and offers a view of old beliefs, some history and a number of very memorable characters and scenes.
I have to admit, I have it in paperback as well as in e-book form! It’s a wonderful addition to any library, digital or not.
It’s also quite a challenge, suitable for advanced readers looking to push their Italian that one final step towards fluency.
Read it, then watch the awesome Sean Connery and Christian Slater movie to see how well you understood the text! (And because come on. It’s Sean Connery.)
Even More Italian E-books: Free Options!
If you’re still undecided about choosing your first Italian e-book, why not check out a few spots that offer free e-books? Maybe you’ll find something that speaks to you—and the price is right, no?
- BookRix has a solid selection of Italian language e-books which vary in length and difficulty, so there’s something for everyone.
- Project Gutenberg is unrivaled when it comes to snagging some free literature. The site is loaded with Italian options so be prepared to face some hard decisions about what public domain work you’ll want to read first!
Italian e-books are indispensable for mobile language learners.
They go anywhere and are accessible from everywhere. Download a few and you’ll always have Italian at your fingertips.
Remember: Start at your skill level, and move up from there.
With so many excellent options to read in this amazingly beautiful language, you’ll increase your language skills before you know it!
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